National grid collapses as GenCos report low water level

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From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja

Amid confusion in the Nigerian electricity supply industry, the national grid is reported to have collapsed for the second time this year.

The collapse has worsened the already bad situation, so confirming the statement by the generation companies that the national grid cannot carry much load because of weak infrastructure.

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In a statement, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) apologised to its customers for the general outage across its franchise areas due to a system collapse that occurred on the national grid.

In the statement, it assured its customers that appropriate measures are being taken to restore normal supply as quickly as possible.

“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience,” it said.

The national grid is managed by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) which is 100 per cent owned by the Federal Government.

The frequent collapse of the grid is a confirmation of the allegations that the national grid cannot carry much load because of old age.

In 2021 alone, the grid collapsed three times in five months (between January and May 2021), against two recorded in the corresponding period of 2020.

Outages/grid collapses occur when there are system disturbances along the transmission grid. Such disturbances could include a massive drop of load from a sub-station that would cause the grid to become unstable.

The grid collapsed on February 17, March 15 and May 12, 2021. This is against the corresponding year’s system collapses which occurred on January 16 and April 29, 2020, respectively.

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A breakdown of the development shows that the sector recorded a total of 45 partial grid collapses and 82 total collapses between 2013 and 2020.

The nation witnessed the highest system collapse in 2016 and the least in 2020.

However, three cases of system failure took place between February and May 2021.

Frustrated by the constant collapse of the grid due to weak infrastructure, the Executive Secretary of the generation companies (GenCos), Dr Joy Ogaji said on Sunday, March 13, 2022, during a press briefing, that weak and dilapidated grid has been the problem of generation.

“Since 2013 when the power sector was partially privatised till date, weak and inadequate infrastructure (transmission and distribution) have continued to render inconsequential, a significant portion of the generation capacities recovered or added by GenCos through huge investments done by them to increase their respective generation capacities.

“While the owners of the GenCos invested committedly and increased generation capacity up to 13,000MW across the country, no corresponding investment and improvement was made at the transmission and distribution ends.

“The result was the significant stranded capacity of GenCos, which ironically, Nigerians are in dire need of but cannot get. Given that capacity utilisation in any market, is often used as a measure of productive efficiency and decisions about investments in power generating capacity depend on expected returns and costs. The persistence of this anomaly over these years compelled GenCos to begin to question the commercial reasonability of continued investment in recovery or expansion of generation capacity that would end up being stranded and not utilised to transmit and distribute electricity to end-users who are yearning for the same” she lamented.

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